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Police turn to cellphones to unravel mystery surrounding uptown shootout during CIAA

Police are hoping that a series of abandoned mobile devices can help them determine who fired shots in uptown Charlotte as the annual tournament was wrapping up.

Police inspect one of the vehicles involved in a Feb. 25 shootout on Caldwell Street in uptown Charlotte.

More than two weeks after a rolling shootout during the CIAA basketball tournament week sent bullets whizzing into a half dozen homes, police have turned to a series of abandoned mobile devices to help crack the case.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police refused to say Tuesday whether the phones have led them to any suspects. No arrests have been made.

“We are still, full on, actively investigating, running down leads,” Deputy Chief Jeff Estes told the Observer. “We are closer today to some resolution.”

Court documents indicate that CMPD detectives got the go-ahead from judges this month to conduct forensic investigations on two cellphones and an iPad found in a wrecked GMC Yukon believed to have been involved in the Feb. 25 shooting. The damaged vehicle was found abandoned on the 600 block of North Caldwell Street.

Nearby, police say they also searched a heavily damaged black Dodge Caravan with multiple bullet holes and found four other abandoned cellphones, court documents say.

Police recovered about 100 spent shell casings from the road, fired from a variety of guns and a rifle. They also found two other bullet-ridden SUVs on Parkwood Drive with tires blown out on both, and one with the front and rear windows shattered. Outside one of the vehicles: a series of white tissues stained with what appeared to be blood, according to court documents.

The exchange of gunfire sent bullets into at least six homes on Caldwell and East Ninth Street, police say. No one was wounded. But the magnitude of the shootout, which occurred 30 minutes before the nearby tipoff of the CIAA championship game, led many to question the event’s future in uptown. CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams said the incident was not connected to the tournament.

[CIAA commissioner won’t address uptown gunfire that occurred before championship game]

In their requests to search the phones and tablet found in the Yukon, police said they were searching for the “unknown subjects” involved and that the cellphones could help them identify occupants in the car and their associates.

A Memphis rapper known as “Young Dolph” (real name Adolph Thornton Jr.) apparently was a possible target of the shooting. This week, he released a new album entitled “Bulletproof,” which includes the songs “In Charlotte” and “100 Shots.”

Tuesday, Estes refused to say whether police have questioned Thornton, or if the checks on the phones and other devices have led to them to any named suspects. He said police continue to follow evidence from the phones and tablet, along with some other areas that he declined to reveal.

“We’re making progress,” he said.

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